- The Internet grants you access to a virtually endless library of content, but sometimes you might not be able to access certain websites.
- Due to geo-restrictions, ISP access restrictions, or misconfiguration on your end, certain websites or services might become inaccessible.
- Check out our best VPNs for Windows 10 to help you unblock restricted websites.
- Visit our How-To Hub to discover more awesome guides for (un)common issues.
The Internet grants you access to a virtually endless library of content, but sometimes you might not be able to access certain websites. It’s well-known that some websites are only available for specific regions.
There are also regions that block websites and/or online services altogether.
However, it’s borderline infuriating when you can’t access a website specifically from your home. No other restrictions are in place, your ISP swears they have nothing to do with it, but still, the website is not accessible.
Why is my Internet blocking some sites?
In some rare cases, the ISP blocks some websites for various reasons. For instance, there is some state censorship involved, and the Government reached out to ISPs all around the state and enforced their regulations on them.
As a result, some websites/services might become unavailable region-wide. Other reasons for your ISP blocking specific websites would be their very content. If it doesn’t fall within legal regulations, the ISP might block it without prior notice.
For instance, your ISP might block copyright-infringement websites, but also ones that promote or condone piracy.
Whatever the reason for your inability to access certain websites, you must perform some checks and rule out certain factors before considering a fix. Here’s what you need to do:
- Call your ISP and ask them if they specifically block that website for you
- Check if you can access the same website from another device on your network
If your ISP is, indeed, blocking the service/website, the issue is not on your side. Fortunately, you can circumvent this restriction easily by using a VPN.
However, if you can access it from another device on your network, it means that there’s something wrong with the original device.
There’s another scenario where you can’t access the service from your entire network, but your ISP also has nothing to do with it. In this case, you need to check your router.
We’ll walk you through all the scenarios and offer you potential fixes for every situation.
How to unblock websites?
1. If your ISP restricts you from accessing it
1.1 Use a VPN
- Download Private Internet Access
- Install it on your PC
- Launch it and log into your account
- Connect to a server in another region (where the website is less likely to be blocked)
- Try to access the website again
If it doesn’t work, clear the cache and cookies on your browser and try accessing the website again. It’s well-known that VPNs can circumvent geo-restrictions by spoofing your online identity (IP address, DNS, location).
Private Internet AccessWant to unblock restricted websites? PIA can come in handy.
Private Internet Access is a great VPN service from Kape Technologies that can help you unblock websites easily.
No special configuration is needed, either; you just choose a suitable server and you should be able to access blocked websites in a jiffy.
VPNs such as PIA hide your IP address, encrypt all of your traffic, and can bypass even the most stubborn firewalls.
1.2 Use a Smart DNS service (for geo-restrictions)
Many online services got smart and detect VPN traffic without too much effort. That’s why sometimes using a VPN won’t work as intended, especially if it lacks obfuscated servers (ones that bypass VPN blocking).
A Smart DNS service lets you access geo-restricted content by hiding your geo-location. It replaces your DNS address with one of its servers’ addresses, stripping geo-location data from it.
Whenever you use a Smart DNS, all your traffic will be routed through it so that it seems you’re in a whole different location.
The downside of using a Smart DNS instead of a VPN is that it offers no privacy/security. There’s no encryption, your IP address is not hidden, and it won’t help you bypass firewalls.
2. If you can access the website from another network device
In this scenario, it’s very likely that there’s something wrong with your device. Therefore, you need to perform some manual troubleshooting and rule out every scenario where your device might block the website.
- Clear the cache and cookies on your default browser and try accessing the website again
- Restart your PC and try again
- Try accessing the website from another web browser
- If you’re using an ad blocker, disable it and try again
- Disable your browser extensions one by one
- Temporarily turn your antivirus/antimalware program off
- Restart your modem and/or router
- Try connecting straight to your modem or home line
- Use a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi
- Make sure your PC has the correct time and date settings (HTTPS websites might block you for incorrect time/date configuration)
- Scan your PC for malware
- Make sure your firewall doesn’t block the website/service
- Flush your DNS and try using another DNS (Google, Cloudflare) instead of the ISP-assigned one
- Check if you didn’t accidentally block the website with your Hosts file
2.1 How to flush your DNS
- Launch the CMD with administrator rights
- Type ipconfig /flushdns
- Press the Enter key on your keyboard
- Close the command prompt
2.2 How to change your DNS
- Find a DNS you’re comfortable with (we recommend Google, OpenDNS, and Cloudflare)
- Launch a CMD instance
- Type ncpa.cpl and hit Enter
- Right-click your active Internet connection and select Properties
- Select TCP/IPv4 and click Properties
- Click the Use the following DNS server addresses radio button
- Type the two DNS servers in the corresponding fields
- Click OK
- Restart your PC
2.3 How to unblock websites with hosts file
- Open File Explorer
- Go to the drive where your Windows is installed (usually it’s C:\)
- Access the Windows\System32\drivers\etc folder
- Right-click the hosts file and open it with Notepad (or your favorite text editor)
- Make sure there are no lines of text after the comment lines (the one starting with #)
- Save the hosts file
- Restart your PC
3. If you can’t access the website on any network device
If you ruled out your ISP blocking the website, then this situation usually means that there’s something wrong with your router. In this case, you’ll need to access your router’s admin page and make sure the website is not hard blocked.
We’ll show you how we performed the check on our router:
- Launch your browser of choice
- Go to the default gateway on your network (your router’s address)
- Switch to Advanced mode
- Check the Parental Controls section for any blacklist/whitelist rules
- In the Security section, make sure the website is not on the blocked list
- After changing the settings (if necessary), restart the router
- Check if you can access the website now
Websites can be unblocked easily
Regardless of why they’re not accessible to you, websites can often be easily unblocked. You just need to isolate the issue and take the appropriate course of action depending on the situation.
For instance, even if a VPN can unblock geo-restricted websites, it might not do much if your device is the one that’s blocking the website. And the same thing applies the other way around.
If a website is blocked by your ISP or geo-restricted, there’s nothing you can change in your PC’s configuration that will make it accessible again, other than using third-party specialized tools such as a VPN or a Smart DNS.
FAQ: Learn more about unblocking websites on your home network
- What is the first thing to do when you are unable to access a specific website?
The first thing to do is identifying the reason why you’re unable to access that website, whether it’s because of your ISP, geo-restrictions, or some misconfiguration on your PC.
- How do I know if my firewall is blocking a website/program?
Misconfiguring your Windows firewall might render you unable to access certain services or websites. Our comprehensive article will teach you how to check if your firewall blocks a program or port.
- Can’t access website from one computer but can from another?
If that’s the situation, your initial device might be blocking certain services, either through its firewall/security/parental control software, its DNS configuration, or its hosts file.